Serious Fun: Game Design to Support Learning about the Surrender of Singapore, pp. 5 of 10

Singapore Surrenders! was designed to be a prototype of a game that could be used in classrooms as complementary and/or supplementary material to support significant curricular and instructional goals in classrooms. It could be used during a class period or for revisions, and packaged with pre-game learning activities to prepare students for the game and with post-game activities, such as an assessment that requires students to identify the five most significant events leading to the fall of Singapore. As such, the game design is aligned to the teaching, learning and assessment of the secondary school History curriculum. The use of immersive gameplay supports the learning of history as a social process since it involves first-hand participation and encourages interactivity among learners. The use of the game can also create an enjoyable, motivating and conducive learning environment to foster conceptual thinking and historical reasoning.

Implementing and Evaluating the Game

Once a playable prototype of Singapore Surrenders! was complete, piloting and evaluation began. Playing games had been a vital part of our initial meetings where we explored games that could be adapted to support history education. We were therefore the first play-testers of Singapore Surrenders! and our aim was to determine if the game could be reasonably played by students, would be engaging, and would support collaborative, classroom-based history learning. We discussed the extent to which the game supported logical reasoning, chronological thinking, collaboration, and challenging fun, and made minor changes for playability (e.g. font size, accuracy). The game was then determined to be ready for further play-testing.

The first external test of Singapore Surrenders! was with first year undergraduate History students in NIE. It was a follow-up to the main lecture where students were provided with information on the outbreak of war and the outcome of the war as well as reasons for the British defeat in Malaya. To prepare the students for the card-based game, which is focused on the chronology of the Malayan campaign and events in Singapore leading to surrender, three video links on the Malayan campaign were provided and a website on the animation of the Battle for Singapore was recommended as preparatory work for the session.

On the day of the lesson, students were asked to sit in groups of 4 or 5 and the lecturer gave an introduction to the lesson objectives and rules on “how to play the game.” After this brief introduction, students began the card game. Approximately 30-40 minutes were given to play the game and subsequently 15 minutes were dedicated for classroom discussion about the game.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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